This was not my best day out on the hills, mainly due to weather and the band conditions.
I picked Hill of Fare as it is an easy 1 pointer nearest to my QTH and I wanted to do a field test of a 10m wire moxon I have been working on. I was also trying a much shorter route up, from the West, compared to the scenic one from the East I used before for my first ever Sota activation.
Weather was forecast cloudy with 5-10% chance of rain, but this turned into 100% continuous light rain between 0800 and 1100 local, so I postponed my start. The new route up is dead easy, starting from a parking area called Back of Hill of Fare on the road north out of Torphins. In fact, the forestry track is so good, you could probably drive up to the start of the single track which branches off to the summit, and there is a large turning point there with plenty of room for parking.
I arrived at the top just as the rain came on again, so I set up my tent and sat in it for 30 minutes waiting for it to pass through. I used the time profitably by putting together the moxon hub.
The rain having stopped, I put the moxon up. This went well and it passed a wind test as well, as a stiff breeze was blowing from the SW. A quick check of the band - dead. Great.
Put up the DX Commander and got on the air on 40m at 1535 local with a S2S with ON4UP/P. Put out a spot and had a short run of usual chasers, including Bill G4WSB who made me laugh by saying he was glad I’d finally appeared as he could now go out and mow the lawn, plus another S2S with DL8DXL/P. Checked 10m - still dead.
Moved to 20m and had another short run including Joe DL5ERJ/P - he was out and about near Cologne and using just 2.5w. The band however was not in great shape, with very deep QSB, signals going from 59 to zero. I checked a couple of Sota spots but didn’t hear anyone. Moved up to 17m and had just two chasers - DJ5AV and SP9AMH but unfortunately Mariusz disappeared and we couldn’t complete.
I then spent 40 minutes listening on 10m which showed some signs of life, with quite a few signals from Spain and a few from Italy. The moxon was better than the vertical and directivity was OK as well, with signals disappearing as I turned it. However, despite a spot and several CQs I was unable to make any contacts. I heard Guru EA2IF/P very briefly on SSB, talking to other Spanish stations but he faded out. None of the signals I heard were moving the S meter, apart from EA4EUI whose rotator was broken leaving his beam stuck pointing North. He was a 57 but working lots of strong (at his end) G-land.
One practical thing I noted was that the 10m moxon has a lot more wind resistance than my 2m yagi or 6m moxon and was turning the mast, so I need to add a clamp at the bottom for next time. This requirement was actually flagged by G1YBB, whose mast details I copied.
With another rain burst having passed through, I decided to call it a day and head home. Sorry, no pics this time. I have a few tweaks to make to the moxon and then will definitely be trying it again on my next activation.
On the plus side: activation successful with 25 in the log including 3 S2S - thanks to all. Moxon carry and deployment in real hill conditions not a problem, good quick route up and down
On the -ve side: late start, poor bands, weather not great, no 10m QSOs